The Supreme Court today asked the Madhya Pradesh Speaker if he could speak via video link to the rebel Congress MLAs in Bengaluru, whose resignation has plunged the state’s Kamal Nath government in a minority.
The Speaker had asked the MLAs to come in person and confirm their resignation, but they have refused to do so without protection; they allege that the Congress has been trying to force them to withdraw their resignations and they are under immense pressure.
“We can create conditions to ensure exercise of their volition is truly voluntary. We can appoint an observer to Bengaluru or some other place. They can connect with you on the video conferencing and you can then decide,” said Justice DY Chandrachud.
The Speaker asked the Supreme Court for two weeks to decide.
“Give me two weeks to decide. Let the rebel MLAs come back to Madhya Pradesh, their homes. They are living in an unnatural habitat, away from their families. The idea of video-conferencing only validates my apprehensions,” said senior lawyer and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
To which, Justice Chandrachud said: “Weeks are gold mines for horse-trading. It is why the court has been proactive in ordering the floor tests. The idea is to force the hands and make sure the floor test happens as soon as possible and prevent such things.”
The resignation of MLAs loyal to former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who quit last week and joined the BJP, has endangered the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh. The Congress insists that the MLAs are being held captive in Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka, even though many of them have been regularly posting videos saying they came of their own volition.
The 15-month-old Congress government in Madhya Pradesh will collapse if the MLAs stand by their resignation.
After the speaker accepted the resignation of six Congress MLAs on Saturday, the party now has 108 legislators. These include 16 of the rebels in Bengaluru.
The BJP has 107 seats in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, which now has an effective strength of 222. The majority mark is 112.
The Supreme Court is hearing the BJP’s petition for an immediate floor test. The governor, Lalji Tandon, has twice asked Chief Minister Kamal Nath to prove his majority but the Congress accuses him of “pre-determining” that the party is already in a minority.
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